What are Wildlife Killing Contests?

Wildlife Killing Contests (WKC) are privately run competitions aimed at killing as many predatory species as possible. Typically, coyotes, foxes, and bobcats are targeted. Competitors compete to kill the most, smallest, or largest predator in addition to other prize areas. While this may seem like a normal hunting competition, it is not. These groups know what they do is unsavory and is not ‘real’ hunting. Participants are required to keep killed predators covered and are not allowed to post anything related to the competition on social media. At the end of the day, the furs or other parts of the animal are rarely used, but rather discarded as the prizes are all that competitors are looking to get out of the event. Wildlife held in the public trust is killed so others can gain financially, sometimes winning tens of thousands of dollars.

Wildlife Killing Contests in Wyoming

Wyoming is home to several of these contests including the ‘Wyoming Best of the Best’ and several other privately run contests. The Wyoming Best of the Best is a circuit of contests that draws people from around the region to come to Wyoming to primarily kill coyotes and foxes. Participants pay an entrance fee and then build points in monthly events that span from December through February. There is a state championship held in early November in Rock Springs. Locations of the qualifying events are in Kemmerer, Casper, Cheyenne, Lovell, Riverton, Rock Springs, and Newcastle. So no matter where you live across the state, there’s likely a WKC happening in your community.

Probably one of the most egregious factors about wildlife killing contests in Wyoming is that wolves can be killed during the event. Wolves are listed as trophy game animals in the northwest corner of the state where there is a hunting season and limits on the number of animals that can be killed. However, they are considered a predator in the remaining 85% of the state which means they can be killed at any time by any means with no oversight or hunting tag needed. Other animals listed as predators are coyotes, red fox, jackrabbits, porcupines, raccoons, skunks, and stray cats. These animals are excluded from ethical guidelines that govern the hunting of other species like elk and deer. In fact, they do not even fall under the Wyoming Game and Fish Department but are managed by the Wyoming Department of Agriculture.

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Get A Better Understanding

Learn more about the work generally cited by groups regarding the negative impacts of wildlife killing contests.

Donate to Wyoming Wildlife Advocates

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Join the fight by clicking here.

Write a Letter to the Editor

Write a letter to the editor or opinion piece in your local paper.

Spread the word

Host a film screening of Wildlife Killing Contests.

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Comfort Theory Film

Recently, Comfort Theory produced a film exposing the truth about Wildlife Killing Contests and how they work. This film details the goals of WKCs and analyzes the issue from both a scientific and societal viewpoint. Please take the time to watch and learn more about this issue. The full move is 25:23 seconds long and the trailer is only 2:11.

Myths of Wildlife Killing Contests

Myth: Killing contests reduce livestock conflicts.

Fact: Killing carnivores, especially a stable breeding pair with no history of livestock depredation, can actually increase livestock conflicts as younger, more inexperienced individuals move into an area. Leaving a gap in the ecosystem leaves resources available for additional animals to use. If a resource remains available, animals will continue to seek out these areas. 

If there are depredating carnivores in an area, hazing those animals away or using other deterrents is more effective than lethal removal. And even more effective is the use of preventative methods that keep conflicts from occurring in the first place.

Myth: Killing contests keep people and pets safe from attacks.

Fact: Coyotes, wolves, and foxes that are targeted in killing contests are of very little threat to human safety. We often hear wildlife killing contest participants fearmongering by saying that coyotes will be attacking kids at bus stops and playgrounds if they aren’t “controlled.” Neither coyotes nor wolves are looking to attack humans. They don’t consider us prey and attacks are extremely rare and almost always involve an animal that has been habituated to food or is ill. Only a handful of people have been attacked and/or killed by coyotes or wolves in the past 100 years. In comparison, twenty-two people a year are killed by cows in the U.S. Randomly killing wildlife doesn’t do anything to improve safety of people.

Small dogs and cats are sometimes killed by coyotes and wolves but are not a regular source of prey. Neither of these species lure dogs just to kill them and are often only defending their den or territory against an intruder. It is the responsibility of people to keep their pets safe. Unattended pets can certainly be killed by coyotes or wolves but are unlikely to if under the watchful eye of their owner.

Myth: Killing contests are a useful tool for wildlife management.

Fact: With no limits, no regulations, and no purpose, WKCs are not a necessary component of wildlife management. Most carnivores are self-regulating meaning that they control their own populations through social constructs and population dynamics that coincide with co-evolution with their prey. Coyotes are compensatory breeders meaning that the fewer coyotes in an area, the larger the litter sizes. Coyotes howl and sing to communicate with each other and to determine how many coyotes are present in an area. If it is determined that not many others are occupying an area, females will have more young. Therefore, killing coyotes only leads to more coyotes in the future. As for wolves, killing wolves breaks up packs and social structure and usually leads to smaller, additional packs. This can lead to depredation on livestock as it is more difficult to hunt elk with fewer pack members.

Myth: Wildlife killing contests save deer and elk.

Fact: The number one factor of deer and elk survival is habitat availability and forage quality. Deer and elk are dependent on having plenty of resources available in the form of land and high quality food. Wildlife biologists have studied the effect of lethally removing coyotes and wolves and determined that it has little effect on either deer or elk populations. There are more elk present in Wyoming than before wolves were reintroduced. Coyotes eat mostly mice, ground squirrels, rabbits, and vegetation and will opportunistically eat fawns if they get the chance, however it isn’t a staple food source.

Not a New Issue

As these news articles show, wildlife killing contests have been active in Wyoming since at least the 1990s and were probably prevalent before that, but so is the outrage over them. Conservationists have been concerned about the effects to the environment and unethical treatment of our wildlife at contests for years.

In a state where we can’t even get a law to ban running over coyotes and wolves with snowmobiles, we have to look to leadership from the federal government as pleas to end these events are ignored at the state level. The Wyoming Department of Agriculture has authority over coyotes, wolves in most of the state, and other predators but is unwilling to consider any action against wildlife killing contests. The Wyoming Game and Fish Department claims they don’t have the authority to manage these animals and is also unwilling to take any action. However, with more and more states enacting bans on WKCs, a federal law is likely to follow. It can’t come a moment too soon for all the coyotes, foxes, bobcats, wolves, and dependent young that are gunned down or left orphaned to die.

We thank those advocates who have been fighting against this issue for decades and brought it to the light of day. We are more than happy to carry the torch and to continue advocating for these animals that have a right to live and contribute to healthy, functioning ecosystems.

Where are Wildlife Killing Contests Legal



Facts about wildlife killing contests: Factsheet

End Wildlife Killing Contests Factsheet

Project Coyote Science Advisory Board Coyote Facts

WILDLIFE KILLING CONTESTS: Contrary to 21st Century, Science-Based Wildlife Management: link



Investigation finds online wildlife killing contests are thriving during pandemic – The Humane Society Legislative Fund (2021): link

Letter to the editor: Coyote killing contests should be banned – RocketMiner.com (2021): link

The controversy over wildlife killing contests – The Hill (2021): link

Coyote Carnage: The Gruesome Truth about Wildlife Killing Contests – YaleEnvironment360 (2018): link

BLM Urged to Shut Down Illegal Coyote Killing-contests in Wyoming – Wyoming Untrapped (2017): link

Bixby: Wildlife killing contests should be outlawed in the West – Denver Post (2015): link



Hunting Contests in New York State (2020): link

WILDLIFE CATEGORIZED as “VERMIN”: Analysis of the Wildlife Management Practices in the USA and Its Ecological Implications on Natural Ecosystems (2020): link

Aligning Coyote and Human Welfare (2020): link



More resources: WWA Resources, Project Coyote, National Coalition to End Wildlife Killing Contests